Controllable Risk Factors – Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease (also called carotid artery stenosis) is the narrowing of the carotid arteries, the two main blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain. Age, unhealthy lifestyle and not effectively managing stroke risk factors such as high cholesterol can lead to carotid artery disease. Plaque, often caused by cholesterol deposits, and other fatty substances can lead to the narrowing and – in some cases – complete blockage of an artery. Narrowed and blocked arteries can lead to stroke.

There are often no symptoms of carotid artery disease. A person may not know they have it until they experience a TIA or stroke. It is important to discuss any stroke symptoms you experience with a healthcare professional, because they can conduct tests to diagnose carotid artery disease.

A healthcare professional may use a stethoscope to listen for a rushing sound, called a bruit (pronounced “brew-ee”), in a carotid artery. This tactic is not guaranteed to identify the disease. Some low-risk blockages can make a significant sound but high-risk blockages can be soundless.

Doppler ultrasound imaging and Computed Tomography(CT) Scan are 2 types of imaging that can identify problems with carotid blood flow.

Carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure in which a healthcare professional removes fatty deposits from the carotid arteries. While atherosclerosis and high cholesterol can often be managed with drug treatment, surgery is another option to help prevent stroke. Carotid endarterectomy is the most common surgery for removing fatty deposits. It can reduce stroke risk by as much as 55 percent.

Carotid endarterectomies can help prevent stroke in patients who have already experienced a stroke, have stroke symptoms or severe atherosclerosis (stenosis of 60 percent to 99 percent).

The Health Education Center at Little Company of Mary Hospital offers the Wake Up Call Screening monthly. This screening is a comprehensive screening for your risk factors for stroke and includes Doppler ultrasound imaging of the carotid arteries. This screening does not require a doctor’s order. The fee for the screening including lab work, Doppler ultrasound imaging of the carotid arteries and abdominal aorta, Blood pressure, heart rhythm screening for Atrial Fibrillation, and much more is $150. The value for these tests is $3,500. Any issues identified at the screening can be managed at our Certified Primary Stroke Center including vascular surgery if it is required. To register or for more information about this 1 hour screening that could save your life, call 708 423-5774 or visit us on line at www.lcmh.org.

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